Vermont Chamber Letter Urges Immediate Action for Restaurants
Below is a letter Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop sent on March 19 to Governor Phil Scott urging immediate action for restaurants.
 

March 19, 2020

The Honorable Philip B. Scott, Governor
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609

Dear Governor Scott:

These are trying and unprecedented times for Vermont and specifically for our restaurant members and their workers. As the state’s only restaurant association with over 330 establishments and outreach to countless more throughout the state, we are very concerned about the economic impact the closure of these businesses will have on our rural communities and downtowns.

The majority of these restaurants are small, independently owned businesses that have been part of a growing and thriving food and beverage industry that helps attract nearly 13 million visitors a year to Vermont.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have maintained an informed perspective on issues that are critical to Vermont’s businesses and have received numerous contacts from these restaurateurs asking for relief as they close their businesses, lay off their workers, sanitize their facilities and worry about the future of their business, their workers, their families and their livelihoods.

I am writing today to request the immediate abatement of the February and March rooms and meals tax payment, the first of which is due March 25, 2020. Vermont’s restaurants are struggling. They need your support and this is the best way to invest in these Vermonters to ensure that they have a chance of re-opening in the future and hiring back their staff, and pay their expenses which continue to mount. This abatement would also be a much-needed investment in Vermont’s rural communities and thriving downtowns. Time is of the essence to decide to help these small business owners across the state. There are other issues that need to be addressed as well including freezing the unemployment insurance experience rating on these businesses and extending the state tax filing deadline by 90 days. We also encourage you to appropriate an extra $2 million in tourism advertising to promote Vermont as a destination. As we imagine the future, we will need to tell visitors that we are “open for business” and we will need resources to do that in a crowded marketplace.

I am available to discuss this at any time or to coordinate a call with key restaurant owners so you have a complete understanding of the magnitude of economic pain in our state.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter. These initiatives could save this industry. We need your leadership and collaboration with legislative leaders to make this happen.

Sincerely,

Betsy Bishop
President
Vermont Chamber of Commerce

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